An article that explains the basis for some of the third world police corruption that you’ll see if you travel. Americans get all worked up over this, but I suggest you deal with it like the locals. Try to avoid the cops at all costs. If accosted, give a small bribe.
It’s important to know what the local bribery rate is so you don’t get overcharged as a foreigner. I find this information out by asking my first taxi driver. “Are the police corrupt here?” Inevitably, they will answer “yes.” My next question is “How much money do they ask for if you are stopped?” Taxi drivers know the drill and will give you the information you need.
Most of the time it’s easier just to give up the $5-$20 rather than fight or argue with the cop for hours and risk the chance of getting arrested if he plants some drugs in your car or on your person.